James Murdoch: the rise and fall of a News Corp scion | Michael Wolff | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
As for the praetorian guard (and, often, wise counsel) around his father: Chernin was gone within the year, followed by Gary Ginsberg, News Corp’s savvy communications executive, and Lon Jacobs, the long-time general counsel and an important moderating influence within the company. James was left as the second most important executive in the company, and inevitable heir. But that also left him the person most closely overseeing the company’s response to the hacking scandal – the importance of which James continued to see largely in relation to its possible effect on the BSkyB deal.
When the scandal hit hard last summer, with the revelations of the hacking of the voicemail of Milly Dowler, the kidnapped and murdered 13 year-old, the primary issue on James’ mind was the deal. That, more than anything, was the worry: while nobody yet thought the acquisition could seriously be threatened, hacking could give regulators cause to delay it – and delay meant that all of News Corp’s cash continued to be tied up. (That was another matter held against James by the powers in New York: the company was paralyzed until BSkyB was done.)
The decision to close the News of the World, over his father’s great and woeful objections, was a James-sponsored plan to meet the crisis head-on and defuse it. When that did not succeed, it was his father’s decision – over James’ great and woeful objections – to scuttle the BSkyB acquisition. (It had become an obvious lost cause to everyone but James.)